A bipartisan bill would establish an official network of sites, programs, and research facilities for important spots related to the Civil Rights movement.
What the bill does
Among the locations cited for potential inclusion in the African American Civil Right Network are:
- The Memphis, Tennessee temple where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech before his assassination.
- The Birmingham, Alabama 16th Street Baptist Church whose bombing — and deaths of four black girls within — helped galvanize the nascent civil rights movement.
- The Little Rock, Arkansas high school which was the first in the south to attempt desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision mandated it.
What supporters say
Supporters say the bill will help educate millions of Americans about the 20th century struggle for civil rights, a story which is at risk of being taken for granted by too many young people.
“The civil purpose of our legislation is to recognize, preserve, protect and share the remarkable American story of the modern struggle for civil rights, a unique national experience that touches every American, regardless of their age or heritage,” House lead sponsor Clay said in a press release.
“The historic network would create tremendous educational opportunities by recognizing those brave souls from all walks of life who fought to make the promises enshrined in our constitution finally ring true,” Clay added.
Votes and odds of passage
The House bill had 72 cosponsors: 68 Democrats and four Republicans. It passed the House on July 26 by a unanimous consent voice vote, meaning no significant opposition was recorded and no record of individual votes was cast.
The Senate bill has only one cosponsor, though a bipartisan one: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). It awaits a vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
A previous version of the bill was introduced in 2015, but never received a vote.